Master of the U-verse

Master of All He Surveys

Master of All He Surveys

I’m not trying to usurp any authority from TMOTU (The Master of the Universe), also know as Mr. Bill. He should have just returned to work today after last night’s settlement of the government shutdown kerfuffle. Besides, he would look better than me in a gold lamé shorts, IMHO. Instead, I am asserting not so much my authority over as my irritation with AT&T. Recently, we switched from their DSL (Dinosaur Slow Linkage) to AT&T’s U-verse service. I must say that I have been quite happy with this new service. My only other complaint, before I get to my real gripe, is that I wish that the rest of the Internet would pick up the pace, so that all my favorite websites would load even faster. No, my real complaint is with the complexity of AT&T billing. It really doesn’t have to be this hard. Maybe if they spent less time helping the NSA, they might be able to streamline their account management system?

I’m one of their most valued customers; at least that is what they always tell me. I should be, what with all the money that I send them every month. Last month I finally succumbed to their incessant pestering and upgraded from DSL to U-verse. We also switched over the landline, but decided not to bundle in the TV. Now they continue to pester me for the TV service. Will they ever be satisfied? I guess that if you give in once to extortionists, it only encourages them more.

I began to suspect that all was not right in the U-verse, when dunning messages began to appear on our voicemail. The kicker was when I got my latest AT&T bill. It showed a full credit for the amount of my regular DSL payment. I figured then that they must have switched the accounts. I was surprised that they did this, because they never did it when we first added the DSL and they never did it when Southwestern Bell became part of AT&T. But I figured out that the must have done it this time.

Now what to do about it? Now comes the sad, sorted and rather tedious portion of this story. Suffice to say, I finally figured out that I now have four separate AT&T logins. I used to have only two, or one too many.

  • Email
  • U-verse
  • iPhone
  • Landline

All except for the first used machine generated IDs and passwords that is to say gobbledygook. I paid the bill, got rid of the gobbledygook and ascertained that my DSL credit refund check was in the mail. It arrived today. This is the where my claim for being Master of the U-verse originated, but just like the ‘real’ Master of the Universe, I will likely face new challenges in my next TV episode, like the upcoming saga of next month’s bill.

Big Brother is Watching You

Lake Boat and Superior Sunset

Lake Boat and Superior Sunset

The new Google Maps App for the iPhone has just been released. I’ve already downloaded and installed it. I have been putting off upgrading my phone to the new iOS, because of all of the horror stories about the replacement Apple Maps App. Numerous coworkers have gotten lost thanks to this flawed application. Apple’s CEO eventually offered a mea culpa and fired the executive who was formerly in charge of this fiasco.

Three months ago Apple booted Google from their phone. This is all part of a greater turf war that these two behemoths of the Tech industry have been waging. Their rivalry erupted into open warfare, when Google rolled out its Android phone. This turf war is sure to continue. I’m just glad that minor battle has been resolved and I can now upgrade my phone’s OS, without reservations.

Speaking of Tech, I regularly receive informational security warnings. Generally, these warnings deal with the dangers of foreign travel, or the latest tricks that thieves are employing. This week’s missive warned that the phone company Verizon has filed a patent on TV sets that will watch the people watching it. “1984”, George Orwell’s novel of a totalitarian future society only foreshadowed this Verizon initiative. Verizon is not alone in pursuing this technology; it is only the latest guest to arrive at this party. Both Comcast and Google were already there.

Some of the details of Verizon’s patent disclosure are worth examining. Verizon discloses examples of this proposed device’s anticipated sensitivity to customer living spaces. Detected argument sounds would elicit advertisements for marriage counseling. “Cuddling” sounds would spawn condom ads. Spoken words would trigger pair matched commercials, much like Google searches generate today.

Who would permit this sort of home invasion? The same people who permit it today, albeit in other forms. Those Google searches are just this horse by a different color. These TV sets will invade your home, because you allow it and because the television sponsors demand it. On air broadcasts that are free, are already losing out to pay cable TV. The choice will be eventually given to you to make, accept this privacy invasion or see your rates climb. Pay your money, or take your chances.

P-75A Eagle

P-75A Eagle

P-75A Eagle

This high contrast, highly textured photograph was taken at the Air Force Museum, in Dayton, OH. The P-75A Eagle can be found in the annex portion of the museum. Most visitors must take a shuttle bus from the main museum to the annex and back. These visitors are only allowed a brief stay at the annex. I guess that this is a security thing, because visitors to the annex effectively have access to Wright-Patterson AFB. When I visited the annex, I had business on base and could spend as much time as I wanted, touring the oddities that populate this part of the museum.

Trials and Tribulations

Western Indian Paintbrush in the Sand

Western Indian Paintbrush in the Sand

I was still in the jury box all day and I shall be there again tomorrow. Hopefully, tomorrow will end my civic obligation. I think that all of my fellow jurors share a similar sentiment. We would all like this trial to be over. This experience is interesting at times, but mainly it is boring and it does come with a rather heavy emotional tariff. I’m still under the judge’s gag order, so that is all I can say.

I biked to court today and returned home both for lunch and at the end of the day. I don’t have to report until nine, so my mornings are pretty leisurely. Lunch was late, but at an hour and 45 minutes it also facilitates ample down time. I got out at five and it is full dark by then. I have lights, enough to be seen with, if not enough to see. I’m running with blinking LEDs fore and aft. I have a halogen light system, but I suspect that security might have an issue with me bringing in what could be construed as bomb making material, my water-bottle sized NiCd battery. Leaving tonight, both the bailiff and a fellow juror asked me to be careful going home. Hey, isn’t this why we have two alternates?

File this under tribulations, when I came home at lunch my home DSL was out. I couldn’t surf the web, while I had my sandwich and tangerines. Instead, I tried to diagnose and correct the problem. My diagnosis was that it was all AT&T’s problem. My brand new AT&T modem thought that it was connected to the Internet, but it was just fooling itself. I came home tonight prepared to run the gauntlet of help-line hell, but fortunately, everything was working just fine again. This rather lackluster post is the result of my working again home DSL.


Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight

I joined the twiterati today. After years of sitting on the fence and wondering if I should dive in, I decided to take the plunge. I have three reasons for doing this.

First, during the election on Tuesday, I followed various twitter feeds online. I got the various state and election calls five to ten minutes before the bloviating TV newscaster got around to announcing the same result. I would run in from the computer room and announce to Anne what had just occurred and then she would she the same announcement on TV. I think that after a while, she rightly found my behavior somewhat annoying. So much the better, if you ask me. While, I would not have had to join twitter to continue to do this in the future, it did influence my decision.

Second, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I heard news reports of people being able to get local and detailed accounts of damage at various locales. In the event that a similar widespread disaster occurs either here or in the vicinity of a love one, it might be nice to get that same detailed level of information.

The Wine Dark Sea of Gitche Gumee #Chardonnay

Finally, there is the undeniable element of self promotion. This week, I read the Julia Thomas NYT Magazine article, #InPraiseOfTheHashtag. In her article, she refers to the pound sign as that hungry octothorpe and goes on to liken it to the chorus of a song, its refrain. I look at it as another art form, a 140 character art form. Thomas likens it to poetry, I’ll just shoot for good one liners, checkout @RegenAxe.

Every Day Is A Freaking Panic!

The Nightsoil Nightwatch

Tuesday was a rainy day. Too rainy even for a “walk the engineer” lunchtime stroll. This limited the amount of work that the plumbers could do. They finished digging out the basement and it was too wet to start digging outside. Rain is also forecasted for Friday. This weather may delay work completion until next week. That’s OK, so long as service is not interrupted over the weekend.

I read an article today that talked about the US Navy’s plans for ‘directed energy’ weapons, what I’ll call lasers. The admiral in charge of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) predicted that within two-years the Navy would start fielding lasers onboard their ships. These weapons would be used to defend our nation’s warships from cruise missiles and aerial drones. ONR said that the major sticking point is determining how to best regulate the competing needs for power, from power for maneuvering the ship and power for firing the weapon(s). Unfortunately, the USS Enterprise is slated for retirement next year. At 51 years of service, it is the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the Navy. The USS Gerald R. Ford is slated to take its place in the fleet. This is unfortunate, because the following line of dialog will have to remain fiction, “Scotty, I need more power!”

As you read this post, I’m girding my loins for another day of battle, I mean work. Soon, I’ll hop, skip and jump. I’ll hop into my car, skip over to Starbucks and then jump to work. No matter how early I arrive, everybody there will already be in a freaking panic. I’ll settle in, dig in and proceed to make my paper airplanes. Once, I have my day’s arsenal prepared, I’ll lie in wait and then proceed to launch them one-by-one at my unsuspecting co-workers. This always sends them into a panic, making this post’s title a truism. I just hope that I don’t poke anyone’s eye out.